Tuesday, December 31, 2013

This is your brain on Barth

I'm going to comment on this post by Steven Nemes:

I believe Nemes is currently a Barthian universalist. There are many problems with his analysis of John:

i) He ignores Johannine dualism, which is present in both the Gospel of John and 1 John. We can depict this in terms of three overlapping circles. In the center is the world. The elect intersect with the world on one side, while the reprobate intersect with the world on the other side. 

Nemes is oblivious to the subtleties of kosmos in Johannine usage. He seems to think this is a universal expression. Yet that fails to take into account the way John often sets "the world" in antithetical contrast to believers. But if the world encompasses everyone, then there's no room for contrast.

ii) As we see in the prologue, Christ enters a world that isn't open to the Gospel, or even neutral. Rather, the world of the Jews and Gentiles is already hostile to its Creator. In the Fourth Gospel, Christ has many personal encounters, both with individuals and groups. The reaction to Christ exposes a preexisting rift, a predisposition to shrink from the light and withdraw into the shadows. The open revelation of God in Christ has a hardening effect on many. 

iii) But some individuals respond in faith. Their positive response also exposes a preexisting mindset. The differential factor is the Father's choice and the Spirit's renewal. 

Both faith and disbelief are effects of something more ultimate. Unbelievers reveal their diabolical paternity while believers revealed their divine paternity. Children of God and children of Satan. 

Left to their own devices, everyone would be under the spell of Satan. Only the Spirit can break the diabolical spell. 

As the Good Shepherd, Christ comes to rescue lost sheep who were marked out for salvation by the Father antemundane election. Like branded sheep who've strayed. The Son comes into the world from outside the world, to implement a redemptive plan which conceived outside the world. Before creation.  

Cf. A. Köstenberger, A Theology of John's Gospel and Letters, 458-64; J. Ramsey Michaels, The Gospel of John, 40-42. Herman Ridderbos, The Gospel of John, 46-47. 

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